Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

3D Title – Paper Letters

Today’s tutorial is in response to a request from Glee. She’d seen a layout in a gallery created by biche57 that had a paper-letter title with the letters stitched to the background. The letters appeared to be lifted away from the background, sort of like butterfly wings. “How’d she do that??” Well, this is how JAN would do it…

I’m using the June Font Challenge font for my layout, and then Clipping papers to each individual letters. You can absolutely use an alpha to get it done faster and with fewer steps. The papers I’m using are from the GingerBread Ladies‘ collab Outdoorsy.

Here’s a little Quick Trick I just discovered. You can BATCH-SIMPLIFY all the text layers! To activate them all, click>shift click on the first and last text layers. Then right-click and choose Simplify Layer.

Here you can see that I’ve Clipped papers to each letter layer. Right-click>Create Clipping Mask or CTRL/CMD>ALT/OPT>G for Elements versions 15 and newer. For older versions the shortcut is just CTRL/CMD>G. To make each letter easier to manage, the paper and letter layers should be Merged. Activate the two layers then right-click>Merge or CTRL/CMD>E.

There! Now I have my paper title. Let’s stitch them down.


My granddaughter’s backpack is lavender, so I thought, why not use lavender stitches? You can put those stitches wherever you like; they’ll be your anchor for lifting the paper, so I felt it was best if I ran the stitches through the centre of the Bs.

We’re creating the illusion that those letters are lifted away from the background, and the easiest way to do that is to use custom shadows. For a lot of you this will be a review so feel free to skip ahead. I won’t mind! (I also won’t know. 😉 ) For those who haven’t seen the previous custom-shadow tuts, we start with Selecting the outline of the object we’re shadowing. To do that, CTRL/CMD>click on the letter’s thumbnail – that little picture of what’s on that layer – in the Layers Panel. That engages the marching ants and gets them doing their drill around the contours of the letter.

Now add a new blank layer UNDERNEATH the layer you’ve just selected. CTRL/CMD>click on the sheet-of-paper icon at the top left of the Layers Panel.

Over at the Color Picker, choose your shadow colour by clicking on the Foreground Color as shown. I’m using black [#000000] but a lot of people like a browner colour like #2c2801. It’s up to you. Then grab the Paint Bucket Tool and dump it into the outline.

Before Elements will let you do anything else, you’ll have to Select>Deselect or CTRL/CMD>D to stop the ants from marching.

The quickest, most effective way to simulate lifting the paper away is to use the Image>Transform>Distort Tool. This lets us change both the size and shape of the image in all directions. The only real limit is how far you take it. Remember to have your shadows all falling in the same direction; decide where your light source is so you can be consistent.

Click-drag one corner of the Bounding Box at a time until you get the shape you want. See how my Bounding Box isn’t symmetrical any more?

To hone the shadow and add realism to it, the shadow needs to be very narrow where the stitches are holding the letter down. I use the Smudge Tool for that. I push the shadow toward the letter at the stitches, and pull the shadow away where I want the paper lifting. The Smudge Tool also adds a slight Blur, but not usually enough to look real.

So… we’ll add a Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur… to the shadow.

To be able to see a Preview of the Filter, click your cursor on the edge of your shadow. Then you can see up close how moving the slider softens the edges of your shadow. Remember, shadows are softer the more light is allowed to leak underneath an object – the farther away from the surface it’s sitting on it is, the softer the shadow. Hot Tip: you don’t have to go through all the Filter steps if you’re going to use the same settings for each layer. Just click CTRL/CMD>F and Elements will do the rest.

To be realistic, the background colour shows through the shadow. To achieve that requires changing the Blend Mode from Normal to Linear Burn.

To make it look less stark and harsh, decrease the Opacity of that shadow layer. Move the slider until you’re happy with what you see. I like 35% – for now – and it’ll be adjustable if I decide it’s too light or dark.

After each letter is shadowed, the stitches need shadows too. I just went with the same steps, but without the Distort and Smudge. I also used a much lighter touch with the Blur because the stitches are literally IN the paper so the shadows will be sharper.

Last thing is to make any tweaks you think will make your title really POP. I just use the Smudge Tool!

I know this method of creating shadows sounds complicated and labour-intensive. At first, it really is. But the more you do it, the easier and more intuitive it becomes. I don’t even really think about the steps now, they’re so familiar. It’s the shadows that really elevate a layout, so it’s worth practicing. Don’t forget to have fun! Next week we’re going to play with doodles.

Designer Spotlight: June 2023

Designs by Lisa Minor

Time has gotten away from me lately. I have so many things on the go right now… so it took some finagling to arrange a chat with this month’s Spotlight designer, Lisa Minor. Finally it all came together, so read on for a transcript of our visit. As usual, we’ll get the formalities out of the way right off the top.

J: Lisa, thanks for taking time to chat! Let’s get down to business so the community at GingerScraps can get to know you better. How long have you been designing?

L: Over 20 years. Can it be that long, really?

J: That IS a long time! What brought you to designing?

L: First, the discovery of digital! Instead of making 5 books every year for family, I could just make ONE and print them all! Second,
the design process can be LONG and TEDIOUS at times, but it’s oh so rewarding as well. To look at the things you’ve created from
everyday inspirations in your life is such a JOY to me. When I first began to “try it out” it quickly became a “what else can I do”
situation. Which is probably why my kits are so big.

J: I was pretty late to the party. I didn’t find digital scrapbooking until 2008, and didn’t get my feet wet until 2010. Funny where life takes us. It never occurred to me that I’d ever have skills, especially skills enough to be invited to teach them to others. Do you have other passions?

L: Yes, I love to do advocacy work with families who are having difficulty partnering with their schools for children with ADD/ADHD.
I also love working in children’s ministries at my church. My target group is grades 4,5,6.

J: Wow! That’s such valuable work. My entire nursing career was in pediatrics, so we have a love of special children in common. What is your favorite recent memory?

L: The birth of my 2 grandchildren this year. Arthur, born March 1, 2023 and AJ born May 7, 2023.

J: Grandchildren are such a blessing! I have three; Jonathan is going to be 9 in a few weeks, Aaron was 7 in January and Miriam will be 5 two days before J’s birthday. They have a cousin whose birthday is in between theirs, so they have one big joint party for the three of them. Aaron is all by his lonesome, and I think he’s happy with that! If time travel was possible, would you go back in time or ahead? Why?
L: Back of course, and I would invest in Google, ha!

J: Wouldn’t that be something? You’d make a killing! I’d be all over the place. I used to say I’d want to spend time with my Swedish great-grandmother because I knew very little about her. But thanks to a random act of genealogical kindness, I’ve learned all kinds of information about her and her parents. My new wish is to visit my very British great-great-grandmother and ask her why she wasn’t able to stick it out in Canada with her husband; she tried 3 times and returned to England 3 times. Anyway…….. What is your most prized possession?

L: A jewelry box given to me by my stepfather when I was 10. I will NEVER get rid of it.

J: I have a jewelry box that belonged to my aunt that I treasure. I also have the gold-rimmed champagne glasses my British great-grandparents used to toast their golden anniversary. Which meal is your favorite?

L: ALL of them, but I love breakfast the most. My go to is a slice of bacon and some vanilla yogurt.

J: Mmm… yogurt! I like vanilla Greek yogurt with stewed rhubarb. I tried it for the first time in Ireland and was hooked. Are you a reader? What was the last book you read?

L: The Boys by Ron and Clint Howard. It’s a fabulous read.

J: I bet! I see both of them on METV… watch it on weekends with my son, who loves the old Western shows. What is the most essential thing you do every day?

L: COFFEE, COFFEE, and did I mention, COFFEE!

J: Shall I pour you some more? 😉 While I’m up, think about this. What is something an outsider most likely would not know about your industry?

L: The time spent on advertising on social media and promoting your products is just as consuming as the actual design process.
It takes an inordinate amount of time and MASSIVE organizational skills to keep up with it all.

J: I’m happy to make my small contribution to helping share your business. Ladies, Lisa is providing the Daily Download [links here on the Blog, every day] and hosting this month’s Designer Spotlight Challenge, of course. But did you know she also hosts the Pinterest Challenge? This month she’s also offering a coupon to her store! Be sure to check it all out.

See you all in July!!



June 2, 2023: Fresh Baked

Happy Friday everyone! My week has been all messed up with the holiday on Monday so I’m not sure if its really Friday or not. (Good news – it is!) 

Remember with $10 spend in the store, you get this beautful kit for free. 

Let’s see what our deisgners have for us this week!

Don’t forget to work on those challenges. This kit is yours as a reward if you complete any 10 challenges. I just love these colors.

GingerScraps: New FREE with Purchase Collab, New Monthly Mix, NEW Guest Designer & More!!

It is the 1st of the month and you know what that means, a huge, exciting newsletter! We have a New Buffet, New Monthly Mix, New Free With Purchase Collab, New Challenge Reward, New Daily Download on the GingerScraps Blog, & a New Guest Designer! 

Let’s start out with the June Buffet. Don’t forget to check out the Buffet Bundles. One easy click to add bundles of Buffet goodies to your cart.

Aren’t the buffet colors gorgeous? And with the buffet kits, you can mix and match to get the perfect kit for you.

Remember any $10 spent in the store gets you this great collab. Are you ready for some {summer lovin’}?

This Free With Purchase was created by Cutie Pie Scraps, Lindsay Jane, Magical Scraps Galore, and Scraps N Pieces.

This collab includes: 1 Alpha {Uppercase, Lowercase, Numbers & Punctuation}, 43 Papers, and 81 Elements.

I love this month’s Monthly Mix. It’s a {joyful june}.

This Monthly Mix was created by ADB Designs, Alexis Design Studio, Karen Schulz, Tami Miller Designs, and The Scrappy Kat.

This collab includes: 3 Alphas {2 Uppercase, Lowercase, Numbers & Punctuation & 1 Lowercase Only}, 65 Papers, 99 Elements.

Now to the June Daily Download Sneak Peek. This month’s Daily Download is from Designs by Lisa Minor! Make sure you are checking the blog every day to get all the pieces of this kit!

 We have a new guest designer for June. For those of you that have been around awhile, she will be familliar.

Twin Mom Scraps

Behind the name Twin Mom Scraps, I am Rebecca, married, and the mom to twin girls. My girls are now 18 years old and just graduated High School! I started designing back in 2008 (I think), when my girls were only 3 years old. After an almost 10 year hiatus from designing…I’m Back!! I never stopped scrapping and, one of my biggest accomplishments is that, I have scrapped EVERY year of their life, including a printed scrapbook for EACH year (actually 2 albums for each year, so they can each have one).

In my free time, my hobbies include chicken keeping my flock of 20+ chickens (I’ve lost count), hanging with our German Shorthair Pointers, and hunting/fishing with the family.

Are you ready for the June challenges? Remember any 10 completed challenges gets you this great kit.

This Challenge Reward was created by Connie Prince, Heather Z Scraps, Memory Mosaic, Tinci Designs, and Trixie Scraps.

This collab includes: 1 Alpha {Uppercase, Lowercase, Numbers & Punctuation}, 48 Papers,  86 Elements, 4 12×12 Template {page, png, psd, tif file formats}.

Here are a few layouts from our talented store CT using the June Monthly Mix.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Quick Trick: Dropping Things Where You Want Them

PDF Version : https://bit.ly/3oLcNMb

And that’s a wrap on May… Time for our Quick Trick of the month. This handy little tip may just blow your mind!

Back in the earlier versions of Photoshop Elements, dragging and dropping objects onto our templates was simple. You activated the layer where you wanted your (flower) and when you dragged it up onto the template it landed on the layer where it was intended to be. Then somewhere around Elements 14, that all changed. Suddenly it didn’t matter what layer was active, it seemed Elements put the (flower) wherever it wanted. Randomly. It’s incredibly frustrating and time-consuming to constantly have to move things up and down the template’s layers stack and I know it was a MAJOR pet peeve for me. Why mess with something that worked?? Well, let me show you how to get around Elements‘ penchant for doing its own thing.

I’ve got the May Template Challenge template from Tinci Designs open on my workspace. I also have a daisy-like flower element from Cindy Ritter‘s Real Moments-Metamorphosis open and plan to put it where the large dark pink place holders are.

If I just drag-and-drop… um NO! That’s not where I want it. It seems random but it really isn’t, as you’ll see in a second.

By taking an extra nanosecond to be precise and intentional, I dragged the flower up and positioned the Move Tool cursor – looks like a pointing finger as shown (enlarged for visibility) – over the exact place holder I want to swap out, THEN drop it.

And there’s the flower… right on the layer where I want it! (Of course, it still drops in the centre of the canvas, but at least it only needs to be shifted into place, not moved up or down the stack.) Now, this isn’t 100% perfect. For example, if you’re working with a particularly small object on the template, it may be difficult to get the cursor on the exact layer. I’ve found that if I Zoom in on the template I have better success in those situations. Going just a smidge slower actually speeds up my workflow!

Give this a try if you’re working with Elements 14 or later and let me know how you like it.

May 26, 2023: Fresh Baked

We’ve made it to another Friday. It’s a holiday weekend in the US (Memorial Day). Do you have special plans for the weekend?

Remember any $10 spent in the store gets you this great collab, perfect for all your outdoorsy photos!

Let’s see what the designers have for us this week.

Have you grabbed the May Monthtly Mix? Only a few more days to get it at this price.

And you only have a few more days to get your challenges done and posted. Remember, complete any 10 challenges to get this kit as a reward.

Tutorial Tuesday (Individual Style)

Challenge Spotlight: Jumpstart Your Layouts

It seems we’ve come full-circle! The first Challenge Spotlight appeared on September 21, 2021 with Jumpstart Your Layouts. Since then we’ve looked at how scrappers’ individual style is demonstrated by how they meet the challenge of using a specific kit, brush, mask, template, theme or set of instructions. The Challenges we haven’t examined are too broad to meet the criteria. <winks>

Now we’re back at the beginning. Sheri, the creative mind and hands known as Jumpstart Designs, has had some rough personal crises to deal with lately, but she still managed to bring us a super-cute mini to Jumpstart Our Layouts. It’s SO super-cute in fact that I’ve had to use the very egalitarian method of selecting every second layout to showcase today… otherwise this post would go on for a lo-o-o-ng time. As usual, I’m going to link each layout to its spot in the Gallery so you can see it in greater detail, and hopefully leave some words of praise for the scrapper. Just click on the scrapper’s name and you’re there. But first, let’s look at the mini itself. [Sheri always makes a bundled kit to go with it, so if you like it*, grab it!]

I’ve downloaded the mini but haven’t yet done anything with it. Lucky for you, we’re going to look at a BUNCH of ways to use it!

The very first scrapper to post to the Challenge Gallery was KAPOH. She always creates these 5×7 masterpieces. She’s turned the floral paper into a rounded, wrapped frame. I love how the little girl’s feet (from the add-on kit) are hanging over the edge. So simple, and so sweet!

Next up is makeyesup. Her photos of a child sleeping in a swing are framed with the included frame element, sandwiching a cluster both simple and sweet. I like how she’s used the coral-dotted paper as ribbon dividers.

Alasandra has also used some of the papers in small strips. Her diagonal design draws the eye to her photo (how do kids and cats sleep with their heads up like that?). The circular cut in her background paper backed by the yellow striped paper looks like a crescent moon. Strong work!

There’s so much to see in this layout from lulutoo. She’s used the ombré paper as her background, and applied a sketch filter to a photo of the sleeping child over the blue side. The mini’s papers are in narrow strips, anchoring her photo and look how she’s got the bears’ heads together in slumber. A+!

Here, demma_b13 has used more than just the mini, although it’s very well-represented. Her clusters are divine!!

I love everything about zotova‘s layout. I struggle with using patterned papers as backgrounds, but she clearly doesn’t! Her nearly-identical but casually NOT-identical clusters frame her photo and add visual interest.

The way dhariana has sliced her photo and plaid paper swatch is intriguing. Her layout is one of those clean-and-simple ones I can’t manage to emulate.

This layout from lulumoon doesn’t use any part of the (free) mini – she went for the whole enchilada! I think she may be trying for the prize* Sheri promised. 😉 Her arrangement of elements on the diagonal give the impression they’re holding up the hammock. Genius!

Is there anything more heart-warming than a baby and a daddy napping together? I’m pretty sure linweb knew she’d melt hearts with her simple layout focused on those photos.

What do you do when you have a photo you want to use but it doesn’t really work with the colour palette of your chosen kit? You do what loonyhiker did… turn it into a black-and-white! Then you can do whatever you like.

For this layout, Pups_r_Paps has bent the rules a little. She’s used some of the elements from the mini and added some elements from an unrelated other of Sheri‘s kits.

Every parent knows this feeling! The simplicity of andastra‘s layout represents that bone-deep fatigue exceedingly well.

NHSoxGirl has created a digital spiral-bound memory book with her layout. The repeating circles tie the layout together beautifully.

For her layout, granny5pics has added quite a few interesting touches. She elongated the paper frame into an ellipse, clipped the blue-starred paper to it and cut a scalloped border on the ombré paper. Oh, and she put her date into the word art using a very similar font so it looks like it has always been there. Well done, Kathi!

Last, but not least, there’s this beaut from willow. That babe is communicating very clearly – DON’T BUG ME! I like that the large-and-in-charge photo is subtly blended into the blue-starred paper and the cluster is positioned perfectly.

* Here’s the scoop on the prize I mentioned earlier, in Sheri‘s own word… “WIN WIN WIN! I have also decided to add another reward for those who purchased the Limited Edition KIT from my shop during the month. After the month is over I will do a random drawing from the list of challenge customers who bought the KIT and THREE people will WIN the next month’s Limited Edition KIT FREE! Be sure to check your PM’s here at Gingerscraps so see if you were one of April’s winners!”

What do you think? Will you be in the running? I’m ver-r-r-r-y tempted!

May 19, 2023: Fresh Baked

Welcome to Friday everyone. I hope you have all had a great week.

Remember any $10 spent in the store gets you this great collab, perfect for all your outdoorsy photos!

Let’s see all the goodness the designers are adding to the store this week.

Don’t forget to work on all your challenges! Just 10 completed challenges gets you this great collab for free.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

DIY Neutral Papers

PDF Version : https://bit.ly/3MD2JN2

As I was pulling last week’s tutorial together, I got a private message from Jen (hclappy) asking me to consider a request. She sent me a link to a thread in the Forum, and I gave it a look. The first post in the thread is from Carla:

“I have found that there are quite a few designers that do not put plain solid papers in any of their kits. If you don’t purchase the “Bundle” then you have to purchase the solid papers separately. I prefer to have a selection of plain papers in the colors that match the patterned papers included in the kit and it is just so much easier. I do not always mix and match scrapbook kits, in fact, I rarely ever combine kits unless it is a challenge requirement. I could very easily MAKE my own but I don’t and I rarely every use the ombre papers as they are just not the same as a regular cardstock/plain paper and most of the time, must also be purchased separately. Please don’t hate on me because of it but I am retired and am not made out of money. Jen commented she likes to have lots of journaling on her layouts, and that her favourite papers or cardstock are the lighter, more neutral papers.

Jen’s request was a tutorial on creating solid/neutral papers that coordinate with those kits that don’t have them in the basic kit. I gave it some thought (about 5 seconds’ worth) and responded in the affirmative. Before I go any further, I’ll warn you that there are about 60 screenshots in this tut, but only about 15 of them are ACTUAL STEPS. The rest are just so you can see what the options are.

Remember that I don’t assume anything when I write these lessons. I want them to be achievable by anyone with any level of experience. I also include both Windows [CTRL, ALT] and Mac [CMD, OPT] keyboard shortcuts. So if the text seems pedantic and repetitive, go ahead and skip the parts you already know. I won’t mind! I’m going to use an older kit from Wimpychompers called She’s a Gem as my basic kit. (I just discovered that Wimpychompers has left the Shop… Sorry!) It has two solid papers but a lot of people wouldn’t want to use those darker colours as the background for journaling. So let’s make some lighter/neutrals!

First things first. Let’s talk about Color Pickers and sampling. (Experienced peeps, here’s your cue to skip ahead.) I chose this paper as my source for a lighter or neutral colour. The background looks to be white, but it actually is a very pale, blue-gray.

But first, we need somewhere to put the colour we pick. So open up a New>Blank File [CTRL/CMD>N].

Make the New Blank File the desired size, and with a transparent background. I like 12×12, and have created a preset so I can just choose Scrapbooking from the menu.

Now, using the Color Picker Tool, aka the Eye Dropper, click inside the source paper on the colour you’d like to work with. Zoom in if you need to. Here you can see the background isn’t actually white.

Once the swatch opens up, you can go lighter, darker, more or less saturated by clicking on the area of the swatch that you like. The colour will be within the same “family” and thus will coordinate with the rest of the kit.

Because Jen was specific about light/neutral, I won’t go with this darker lavender.


Let’s use this one.

Okay… onward and upward. Since Carla specifically mentioned cost, let’s first look at some ways to take this solid square up a notch without adding any expense. Photoshop Elements Filters to the rescue! Filter>Texture>Texturizer… will have some potential.

To see what’s happening, Zoom in using the little tiny button at the lower left of this screen. Then just play around! There are four basic textures in this menu: Brick, Burlap, Canvas and Sandstone. Each one can be customized to give you something you can work with.

The sliders make all the difference. These are the same settings I used for the Brick version.

I found the Canvas Filter to be a little insipid so I increased the Scaling to 100% and the Relief to 10.

Sandstone is quite a bit smoother. Of course, there are other things that can be done, such as adding a brush border or a vignette, to make the paper more special too.

Now let’s look at what we can do with some Commercial Use textures. GingerScraps is blessed with some very talented designers who also create tools for others’ use. All of these are currently available in the Store, and are linked in the text. Just click the images and give the sets a look. The first set we’ll look at is one from Aimee Harrison.


These textures look blah until you change the Blend Mode. So it’s all just a matter of choosing the one you like best. Here’s Aimee‘s texture with Multiply.

I tried each of the textures I’ve used in my samples with each of the Blend Modes. I’m not going to show you the ones that were definitely not suitable.

Color Burn

Linear Burn


Oh, Hard Light doesn’t really look all that different.


On to some textures from Cindy Ritter Designs.


Color Burn

Linear Burn




Hard Light. Again, not too different.

Oh my! This was a surprise!! Vivid Light


How about some textures from Ilonka’s Designs?


Linear Burn


Karen Schulz gives a suggestion with her textures to use Screen Mode.

And here’s the result.

I think Overlay might work well.

Soft Light

Vivid Light might be over the top. But with an Opacity tweak, maybe…

Neia Scraps has textures in her store too. This one has a pattern, but could surely be “read” as a solid/neutral.


Color Burn

Linear Burn


Hard Light

Vivid Light



And then there are these from The Scrappy Kat.

Multiply looked… wrong. Here’s Color Burn.

Linear Burn is probably too dark.

Overlay loses the plot.

Hard Light finds it again.

Vivid Light is harsh, but could work with decreased Opacity.


Linear Light same.


But… as a whole sheet it might be okay!

Full sheet, but light aqua and Aimee‘s texture.

And Karen‘s…

And with an Opacity decrease.

Now you’ve got some ideas, I hope you’ll give this a try! Don’t forget that you can add a messy edge, a brush border, a vignette and any number of other additions to these to make exactly the look you want. Have fun with it.

Tutorial Tuesday (Photoshop Elements)

Selectively Recolouring Brushes – Revisited

PFD VERSION : https://bit.ly/3pwIn0c

Awhile back Jill asked me if I’d consider writing a tutorial for making the Challenge brushes look like the images the designer shows of the brush in full colour. I pointed her to some similar topics from before, but the request kept niggling in my brain. This month’s brush is GORGEOUS and, wouldn’t you know, Alexis had an image in full colour. May is my birthday month and lilies of the valley are one of my favourite flowers/scents, so I dived in.

Before we get started, here are a couple of tips. If you’re planning to recolour THIS brush, you should be well-rested and have your glasses on. You WILL feel some eye-strain! And make the time to take breaks every so often to give your eyes and brain a rest!! As usual, I’ve experimented with each step to ensure the pitfalls have been already identified and covered over. I can screw up anything, so let me make all the mistakes so you don’t have to. I’ll only show you what gave me the best results.

Let’s get going. This brush if quite transparent, as you’ll see in the screenshots. I’ve got it on a transparent background and the gray grid is easily visible. I approached this task the same way I do selectively recolouring word art.

First step is to make several Copies of the brush layer. Make more Copies than you think you’ll need. Because once you get going, you might need to have an unblemished Copy waiting for you. So decide how many colours you think you’ll be using, and then make one more Copy than colour. Elements offers several methods of doing things like making Copies. Layer>Duplicate Layer is one way. Right-click on the layer and choose Duplicate Layer is another. If you use these methods there’s another step before you’ve got those new layers. (See next screenshot.) The easiest way to make Copy layers is to use the keyboard shortcut CTRL/CMD>J.

When you use the first two methods above, Elements will ask you where to send the Copy. This is handy if you want to Copy a layer from one project to another or to start a new project based on that Copy layer. In this interface, the default setting is to Copy it into the existing project; you can also rename the Copy layer to help you keep all your stuff straight.

Close your eyes on all but the bottom-most layer so you can see what’s happening. Activate your Eraser Tool. Choose a smallish, hard, round brush for your Eraser and set the Opacity to 100%. Decide which parts of the brush you want to isolate first. I usually go with the one that will be the most work first, in this case, the blossoms. Then start very carefully Erasing everything BUT the blossoms.

I really hope you get comfortable with using keyboard shortcuts. It may seem like an impossible dream that you could memorize them, but the more you use them the easier it gets. They’re amazing time-savers so they’re worth trying. To increase the size of your brush, click CTRL/CMD>] as many times as needed to bring it to the size that will work best. To shrink it, use CTRL/CMD>[. Zoom in (CTRL/CMD>+) and out (CTRL/CMD>_) as needed to see what you’re actually doing.

Remember, take frequent breaks so your eyes don’t fall out.

If you find yourself looking at a Zoomed IN image and can’t figure out what to keep and what to remove, turn one of the other Copy layers’ visibility on momentarily. See how it darkens the image so you can see that little stem so much better? Once you’ve identified the next area, turn the Copy layer back off. If you leave it on, you won’t see where you’re Erasing.

There… only the blossoms are visible on this bottom layer. If this was word art, or if the brush was more opaque, it would be easy to Erase the blossoms from the next layer. But I tried it and it didn’t work. Rest your eyes. Get a glass of water, Stretch your legs…

Let’s work on the stems. The more remote blossoms were easy to remove from the second layer. It’ll be a bit more challenging where there are leaves and blossoms touching, but not impossible.

Now I have just the stems. They’re much more meaty so they’ll come out of the leaves much easier.

Move up to layer #3. CTRL/CMD>click INSIDE the STEMS layer thumbnail to Select the edges of the stems. Don’t click outside the box though, or you’ll activate the stems layer and have to Undo. It’s hard to see the marching ants in the screenshot but they are there.

For this step you can Edit>Cut or CTRL/CMD>X to remove the stems from layer #3. I found that, due to the transparency of the brush, just Cutting once left a ghost image, so I repeated the Select>CTRL/CMD>X process several times, until every pixel was removed.

After the stems were removed, I tried again to Select the blossoms and although I couldn’t see the marching ants at all (I wasn’t seeing much of anything by then…), when I hit Select>CTRL/CMD>X a couple or four times, the blossoms vanished!

This is where I really took one for the team. Figuring out the best methods for colouring each layer was a major experiment. For the leaves, that turned out to be applying Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. I’d never used this option before but I think it’ll be a great tool.

Check the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask box. Choose green from the dropdown menu. Don’t worry if it’s not the green you want. That’s changed in the next step. Leave the Blend Mode set to the default Normal and Opacity at 100%.

At first you won’t see ANY green. Check the Colorize box! Push the Saturation slider all the way to the right. Then use the Hue slider to get the right green. If you think it’s still not quite right, adjust the Lightness slider. You’ll see all of the changes in real time. Look at how all the shading and details are preserved.

The stem layer didn’t cooperate with an Adjustment Layer so it got the Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color treatment. The keyboard shortcut for Undo is CTRL/CMD>Z. You can go back several moves if needed, but if you find you’ve gone one step too far, Redo is CTRL/CMD>Y.


Always check the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask, otherwise you’ll just have a solid coloured square.

I picked a much darker green for the stems so they’d show up better. Notice they’re still quite transparent.

So I Merged the Color Fill and stem layers together. Select both layers then right-click and choose Merge Layers. Or… CTRL/CMD>E.

My reason for Merging was so I could Copy the stem layer to make them more visible.

With the Copy layer in place, the stems are much more sturdy.

And it’s coming along nicely! On to the blossoms.


If I didn’t add at least a hint of colour to the blossoms, whatever will be behind the brush will show through them and that might not be a good thing. So I added a Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color.



I chose an ivory shade here. When you see my finished layout, you’ll also notice I made a bunch more changes to the blossoms, but let’s stick to the basics.

As expected, against the transparent background the blossoms are difficult to see. Will changing the Blend Mode for that layer to Multiply help? I still want the shading and detail preserved.

Let’s try something completely different… let’s make a Copy of JUST the Color Fill layer!

And the finished product is not terrible. I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to Save this as a PNG so I don’t have to do the work all over again!

I turned my finished project into a sticker and went with a really minimalist look for my layout. I’ll get it into the Gallery later.

Next week’s tutorial will be much less involved, I promise!